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The Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 27. A Miner's Cabin

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Kit's principal captor was known as Dick Hayden. He was an Englishman, and a leader in every kind of mischief. If there was any disturbance between the miners and their employers, he was generally found to be at the bottom of it. A naturally quarrelsome disposition was intensified by intemperance. In the attack upon the circus tents he found himself in his element. His ignominious defeat made him ugly and revengeful.

His wife was dead, but he had one child, Janet, a girl of thirteen, who cooked for him and took care of his cabin. The poor girl had a hard time of it, but she endeavored so far as possible to avoid trouble with her brutal parent.

It was near ten o'clock when Hayden came home after locking Kit in the deserted cabin. He had gone away without supper, but late as it was, Janet had something hot ready for him on the stove.

"Well, Janet, child, have you my supper ready?" he said, not unpleasantly, for his victory over Kit and the meditated revenge of the next day had put him in good humor.

"Yes, father; it's on the stove and ready to dish up."

"Lay the table, then, for I'm main tired and hungry."

The little girl quickly spread the cloth, and Dick Hayden ate like a voracious animal.

When supper was over he sat back in his chair and lit a pipe. A comfortable supper made him loquacious.

"Well, Janet, you don't ask where I've been."

"Was it to the circus, father?"


"How did you like the show?"

"I didn't see it," he growled, a frown gathering upon his brow.

"And why not, father?"

"Because we had a fight to get in free, and got the worst of it."

"They must be main strong, then, those circus men."

"Strong!" repeated Hayden, scornfully. "Well, mayhap they are, but we'd have bested them but for the giant."

"The giant! Is it the big man I saw in the parade?"

"Yes; he's as strong as three men. He flung me down as easily as I'd throw a boy."

"Then he must have been strong, for you're a powerful man, father."

"There isn't a man as works in the mine'll compare with me, lass," said Hayden, proudly; "but all the same I'm no match for a monster."

"Tell me about it, father," said Janet, with natural curiosity.

Dick Hayden went on to describe the fight around the ticket stand, and how he had slipped away, intending to cut the ropes of the tent and let it down on the heads of the spectators gathered inside.

"I'd have done it, too," he added, "but for a kid."

"I thought just now you said it was the giant."

"And I stick to it, lass; but this boy saw what I was doing, and brought the giant to the spot. I could do nothing after that. He threw me down, so that for a few minutes I was stunned."

"And how did the fight come out at the ticket stand, father?"

"Our men had almost overpowered the circus men, when the giant rushed into the midst, and, seizing a club from Bob Stubbs, laid about him, till half a dozen of our strongest men lay on the ground with broken heads."

What puzzled Janet was, that her father should have come home in such good humor after so disastrous a defeat. It was contrary to her experience of him. She would naturally have expected that he would be surly and quarrelsome. The mystery was soon made clear.

"But we've got even with them!" chuckled Hayden directly after.

"How is that, father?"

"We caught the kid."

"You have?"

"Yes; he was goin' to the circus cars to turn in when Stubbs and I caught him."

"You--you didn't kill him, father?" asked Janet in alarm.

"No, not yet."

"Where is he?"

"Do you mind the deserted cabin on Knob Hill?"

"Yes, father."

"He's locked up in that, tied hand and foot."

"How long do you mean to keep him there?" asked Janet, anxiously.

"Till to-morrow, and then----" Dick paused ominously.

"Well, and then?"

"He'll be lucky if he gets off with a whole skin," growled her father. "But for him I'd have brought down the tent about the ears of the people that sat inside, and we'd have had a fine revenge on the showmen."

"You don't mean to kill the boy, do you, father?"

"What is it to you, lass? You'd best mind your own business. You've got nothing to do with it."

"How does the boy look? Was it the one that drove the first chariot, father?"

"Like enough, lass! Did you see him?"

"Yes; I saw the parade. Everybody was out in the streets then."

"And you took partic'lar notice of the boy? That's like a lass," chuckled Hayden.

"But it was his duty, father, to stand by the show, seein' he belongs to it."

"I don't trouble myself about that. He brought that monster on me, and I'm sore yet with the fall he gave me. I'll take it out of the kid."

"But it seems to me, father, it would be better to lay for the giant."

"What folly is that, lass? I'd be main glad to give the giant a dose of what he gave me, but he'll leave town to-night, and I ain't big enough to tackle him, even if I had the chance. So I'll revenge myself on his friend, the boy. The kid may be his son, for aught I know."

"And what will you do for him, father?" asked Janet, pertinaciously. "You won't kill him?"

"Well, I won't go so far as that, for I've no mind to put my neck in a noose, but I'll flog him within an inch of his life. I'll teach him to mind his own business for the future."

Janet knew her father's strength and brutality, and she shuddered at the idea of the boy being exposed to it. She knew very well it would be of no use to make a protest. She would only get herself into trouble. Yet she couldn't reconcile herself to the thought of poor Kit being cruelly punished. She asked herself what she could do to prevent it.

There was one thing in favor of a rescue. She knew where Kit was confined. If it were not so late she would steal out, and going to the cabin relieve him from captivity. But it was too late, and too dark for that. Besides, she could not leave her father's cabin without observation.

"I will wait till to-morrow morning," she said to herself.

It so chanced that on account of some slight repairs the mine in which her father was employed was shut down for a few days. This was favorable, for he would lie in bed till eight o'clock at least, and there would be a chance to get out without observation.

The next morning, about five o'clock, Janet rose from her bed, hastily dressed herself, and crept to the door of her father's chamber. He was sound asleep, and breathing heavily. There was small chance of his awakening before seven o'clock.

Janet took a little meat and bread in a tin pail, for she thought the captive might be in need of breakfast, and then, putting a sharp knife in her pocket to cut the ropes that bound him, she left the house and took her way over the hill to the deserted cabin which served as Kit's prison. _

Read next: Chapter 28. Kit Rescued By A Girl

Read previous: Chapter 26. Kit Is Made A Prisoner

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